Thought of the Day - Technology KISS
Recently there is an article and comments which try to mock or belittle Mr Tan Kin Lian in bringing up an idea of improving the cash payment system for bus company.
It is quite typical of Singaporeans, really. They don't really understand the problem and how system could be improved before they tried to belittle others.
Mr Tan had put up a suggestion that all cash payment for bus ride should be fixed at a price (let's say $2 or $3) and that will keep it simple.
I understand where Mr Tan is coming from but not many of his detractors. First thing you got to ask yourself, have you tried to take a bus by paying cash before? If so, do you always get your bus fare right all the time without the need to ask the driver? Most of you will not know how much and some of you would think the fare is the same as the EZ-Link card fare!
This is the problem Mr Tan tries to address. Application of Technology may not be always good. The principle I used to assess whether an application of Technology is excellent, good or bad or flawed is to look at KISS. What is KISS?
KISS is Keep It Simple and Stupid. Technology is supposed to make life better by making the process Simple and Idiot Proof. It would and should probably increase productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. If it doesn't, then the system is flawed. (I have used this to assess the Self-Check-in System implemented in Changi Airport as well. I will touch on this again in my future post)
For example, the EZ-Link card is a good system, though not the Excellent system. Why? Because it does not address the issue of people forgetting to tap while exiting the bus. It does not expand to other usage like replacing the cash card system and for retail purpose. This is only passable with a Grade C as compared to Hong Kong's Octopus Card, in my view.
As for the Cash payment system for the buses here, it is utterly complex and it is neither efficient nor productive. If a commuter does not know his fare, he will ask the driver. This will take a couple of minutes normally. And for this system, the bus company has to employ additional supervisors to do spot checks on buses just because of the relatively fewer commuters who use cash payment!
Hong Kong system is something worth looking at. Although Hong Kong's system does not differentiate fare based on whether you use Octopus Card or cash, or that it will give discount when you change bus or train (this is part of the strength of Singapore's system), but it is simple, neat and clean. The bus fare is based on a stepping down system. When you take the bus from the terminal, it will charge you a flat fare of let's say $7.80. At the next section (maybe a few bus stops away), the fare may drop to $6, etc.
The beauty of this system is that it is KISS. When you board the bus, if you use Octopus Card, you only tap once when you board and bus fare deducted. You don't need to worry on whether you would forget to tap when you alight the bus. If you use cash for payment, there will be LED display panel to show how much you should pay. The bus driver will just make sure you pay the right fare. No tickets needed or given! End of transaction.
Is there any technology applied here? Yes. The Octopus Card system as well as the auto-fare calculation display panel. And you don't need bus company to send people going around to check whether you have paid the fare or not!
Singapore could adopt the part of cash payment system. If you are paying cash, then be prepared to pay more or just equal if you are taking full ride to the terminal end. The fare will be calculated based on maximum distance trip. For example, if you take a bus from the start terminal, you will pay the full fare from Start to End Terminal in cash, regardless of where you will be alighting along the way. The LED display panel will show that fare. Even if you take the bus at mid-point, the fare calculated will be from mid-point to End Terminal, regardless of where you want to alight.
For this system, there will not be a need of issuing tickets nor sending bus conductors to do spot checks (save cost to the bus companies). The commuters will have fare clearly stated to them when they board the bus, don't need to waste time of asking the bus drivers and having the drivers to start figuring out the actual fare.
You do not need to be Techie to use such system like searching through internet or phone apps, just like EZ-Link card. It is basically Simple and Stupid Idiot Proof system.
It improves productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. Quite easy to implement as well.
The main problem with Singaporeans is that they do not observe and learn much things about other systems in other places when they travel. Most Singaporeans would think our system is the best around the world without knowing how fast the other cities had progressed.
The worse part is that they started to attack others who would just comment on the inadequacy of our own system without much thinking on whether there are better ways of improving it
On the sideline:
I have known Kin Lian Tan for quite some time now and I know he is always trying to comment on how things in Singapore can be improved. In fact, his consistency in doing so just demonstrates he genuinely care for Singapore.
Try asking Tony Tan to take the public transport, or even board the bus and see whether he knows how to use that EZ-Link card! Or simply ask the standard questions to all President-wannbe, how much is the bus fare in cash for our system! See how many of them could really answer without googling for it!
Thus, I find it extremely disappointing in some Singaporeans who are so myopic and vindictive, blinded by their own prejudice, emotions and misplaced "loyalty" to see the BIGGER context of things. Other than Tan Kin Lian and maybe Tan Jee Say Tan, had any other President candidates contributed their ideas, time and effort in trying to improve Singapore?
Goh Meng Seng
Just for illustration. The current cash payment system is horrendous. For short trips, you will pay almost DOUBLE of the card payment. For my system, it may be more or lesser depends on where you board and alight the bus.
But for long distance travel, you will definitely pay lesser than the current system by paying cash.
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